Open negotiations with a disarming statement. This way you diffuse tension from a tense situation. This first step in negotiation could earn you the sale. When dealing with a seller, buyers (and that includes you) by nature are guarded. And you can’t blame them. Over the decades the buyer-seller relationship has become fear, instead of value-based. And sellers are to blame.
Driven by self-interest and relentless pressure to meet targets, sellers have given Sales the sense of doing something to somebody rather than something for somebody, or with somebody. In the process they have cut corners, short-changed buyers and, sadly, even at times, resorted to deceiving customers. The result: tension. Tension in any buyer-seller engagement. Even one the buyer has called for. More so if you are seated on opposite sides of a table which by its very nature is adversarial: You vs Us. Now why would you want to add fuel to the fire by adding tension to an already tense engagement?
Example of opening statement in negotiation as first step in negotiation
So. What to do? As a first step in negotiation, allay the tension with your opening. A statement like, “This meeting is exploratory. I propose we exchange what each of us does and see if there are any points of synergy,” will immensely help in doing so. Or: “I’m not sure if we have what you need (or we’re the best fit for you) but if it’s OK with you, I’m happy to engage and find out. Is this acceptable?”
The buyer won’t know how to respond to this. It’s the last thing he was expecting. However, his protective armour will start peeling off. In fact, if you are observant enough (as you should be) you should notice a change in his posture. From tense to relaxed, even if subtly. Remember, he does not want to appear vulnerable. Least of all to you, the (predatory) sales person. And that seemingly innocuous change in mood could lead you to getting the sale.
Basic negotiation strategies
Why? Not only, are you silently saying, “I’m different,” the consequence of this is that the buyer opens up much more easily. Of course, this assumes that you continue on the same trajectory of openness after the opening. If, however, you used the disarming opening as bait, at the first instance of relaxation by the buyer, you will likely instantly lurch into default (selfish) setting. And guess what? He’s likely expecting this. And even if he’s not, either way, his wall comes back up. This time reinforced with steel and concrete.
Now if you had only opened up some more. If you had only shared a 2-3 minute brief of who you are and what you do while touching on what they do, the buyer would have quite likely picked the cue and started opening up about themselves and what they seek. Remember, by nature, buyers are selfish. And your opening strategy has shouted collaboration. One of the ways of touching on what they do is sharing (briefly) a relevant case study or testimonial. “When we worked with (name of relevant institution or individual) what they sought was facilitation of strategic planning session and the CEO (his name) by his own admission said the objectives were met. The nature of strategic planning engagement differs across institutions as I’m sure yours is…” (This example assumes that strategic planning facilitation is what the buyer seeks)
Conclusion: How to start a negotiation introduction
As a first step in negotiation, a disarming statement stands as a pivotal tool, capable of setting the tone for the entire negotiation process, transforming the nature of the exchange from one rooted in scepticism to a more collaborative and value-driven partnership. In opening statements in negotiations, it is most important to recognize this tension as you navigate the intricate landscape of these transactions, and take deliberate steps to rebuild trust, fostering an environment where all parties involved feel genuinely heard and valued.
Only then can you steer the narrative away from fear and discomfort, directing it towards a partnership built on the pillars of mutual respect and understanding. In doing so, you forge the path to a sales environment where the notion of ‘doing something for somebody’ supersedes the dated perception of ‘doing something to somebody.’
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